Remembrance of Earth’s Past by Cixin Liu

I can’t recommend Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of the Earth’s past-series high enough. Now, i do have ties to China (my wife’s chinese) and as such, i’m quite interested in reading chinese novels, wuxia or otherwise, and it saddens me that it is so difficult to buy these things in paper-form. You can read fan-translated versions on the net in droves, but really professional publishings are rare. And if something’s available, it can set you back a ridiculous amount of money (60€ for a book). So i was quite happy when i discovered the first in Cixin Liu’s series, The Three-body problem. It won more than just one award, it was translated and it was available on Audible.

Here’s the blurb:

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

The Cultural Revolution serves as an introduction and i think it explains why someone would behave in a manner like that woman who gets into contact with the aliens does – she ignores a warning from one friendly alien and sets up humanity for extinction by giving away the existence and position of Earth. There’s another twist here: it will take the aliens 400 years to reach earth, so there is time to react to the threat. Unfortunately, much earlier, so-called “sophons” arrive and limit human research by way of messing things up with experiments like the particle accelerator. So we can make progress in currently available technologies but can’t develop new ones and it’s quite obvious that the aliens are superior and will almost certainly win the war.

It is an interesting and new take on the quite common “aliens invade earth” theme, and even from the point of view of a different- chinese- culture, which is good, because “non-western” views on topics like that tend to be surprising. And this one is- it’s not very heroic- many humans will believe in defeat and think about escape, if they think at all, and there’s even an organization that welcomes human extinction. It’s an interesting mind-game that’s very enjoyable to read/listen to.

One thing of note: i don’t know why, but i’m really having trouble with many english audiobooks. With the exception of Roy Dotrice, who reads the Song of Ice and Fire books, i find it very hard to follow most narrators because they are reading quite flat and emotionless. It took hours before i got used to the narrator here and started to notice differences in voicing different characters or moods. I’d really rather read, but these days, it’s much easier for me to listen to audiobooks instead.

This week, i listened to the second book of the series- The Dark Forest, and i’m glad to see that the author maintains the quality of the first one. The third and final book will release in english this year and i’m really looking forward to the conclusion- so if you like that kind of sci-fi, i really recommend you pick it up.

A quiet week

This week should have been big- really big. The Elder Scrolls’ Thieves Guild DLC launched, The Division launched and it is only week 2 of Black Desert Online. So there were three games i really like that needed my attention. And then…i decided to let it all pass me by.

It was a voluntary decision only in parts. I had planned a nice and fun guild activity for sunday evening and was looking forward to playing ESO with our small-but-still-growing community, when i woke up on sunday morning only to vomit six times in a row. I don’t know why i did, maybe i ate something icky, but i know it knocked me out. The rest of the day went by in a blur, i basically slept the whole day, got sick a few more times, tried to read some stories to our son and subsequently fell asleep doing that. At one point i managed to get up and post a message on the guild’s forum that i couldn’t make it- a message of two sentences, which is very unusual for me, and went back to bed. While i did get better on monday, i still didn’t feel too well and chose to go to bed early. This continued throughout the week- i did take a look at The Division but i’ve only managed to get to the base of operations by now. In this hugely exciting week i chose to take a break from gaming, and get good night’s sleep and rest. Today, on friday, i feel good. Just in time- tonight we’ll be taking a look at Hew’s Bane in Elder Scrolls Online. If someone turns up, that is.

The Guilt

One thing that has been a constant throughout the several attempts at creating and starting a guild up is that i love scheduled activities. When i log into a game, i’m usually not a very group-friendly player, because i need a few days to be in the right state of mind and in the right environment to set aside a fixed amount of time for being in a game. I love socializing in MMOs, but i do it in an “organized” manner by submitting an idea to the guild, setting a date and time, plan a bit and then make it happen. Usually, these events are received very positively by other guild members and frankly, i think they are what holds such a community together. The problem is this: in almost all cases, i’m the only one organizing these events and this fact leads to me feeling a lot of pressure. I’ll try and set these things up weekly/biweekly, but when something happens and i can’t make it, there’s a lot of silence. And when i need to cancel something, i feel like it sends a message to the other guildmembers, namely that “this isn’t important”. While it is true that i don’t really care if three, four or eight people turn up for a night of gaming, when people receive that message, it will at some point happen that no one turns up- or only one other person. Often, i haven’t been able to “bounce back” after such an event.

thieves_guild

So that’s what worries me right now- that, after i got sick just before the last two events – on the first occasion, i did turn up but had to shorten it quite a bit, tonight only few people will turn up. With our family going to China for two weeks on tuesday, this low attendance event might be followed by two weeks of silence. I’ll have to see how to pick things up again when i’m back. Or maybe i’m wrong, as i can also totally see 4-6 people logging on tonight. We’ll have to wait and see tonight.

After returning from China, i set up a dungeon running night- and that’s a strange one for me, because usually i plan these nights for all levels and all numbers of participants- and i can’t do that with dungeons, because the group size is four. But with the new grouping tools Elder Scrolls Online now supports, i think it is time to start the dungeon-delving.

Other than that, things are going great in the community- we took two recruits in as members and recruited two more players into our ranks- we are now just one player short of the guild bank. In terms of speed and amount of growth, it is turning out just as we hoped it would, which is nice.